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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Sweet ‘Taters — Also Known as “Sandy Candy” in Eastern NC

By Sherrie Norris

I have been fortunate, these last couple of years, to have a 40-pound box of sweet potatoes hand delivered from a Smithfield farm family by mutual friends in Avery County.

The Eldridges simply refer to their products as “Sandy Candy,” something I’d never considered before, but why not? They are as delectable as any dessert I’ve ever eaten and certainly a lot healthier.

My penchant for sweet potatoes derives from childhood visits to relatives of my own who raised sweet potatoes in abundance in the red-dirt piedmont area of Rutherford County.

I also recall spending as much of my childhood there as possible – and all I have to do now is close my eyes for just a moment, and I’m there once again. Some of my most vivid memories of those times spent with my Aunt Sylvia’s family include rambling around their regal colonial home perched on the hillside overlooking the family dairy, surrounded by lush fields of sweet potatoes and corn, the back porch filled with fruits of the family’s labor as harvest time arrived, the old cook stove heating up the most mouthwatering creamed corn a body every made —or consumed; the quilting frames in the front room weighted down by a colorful project near completion — and that’s just the beginning.

As I have grown older, those “good old days” seem to mean more than they once did. And, while those times may be gone forever, the memories remain as a priceless treasure.

We don’t have to go to Rutherfordton or to Smithfield for a sweet tater as many upscale restaurants offer them on the menu and most produce bins are now overflowing in anticipation of family traditions we hold dear. Here’s hoping you have an appreciation for this sweet treat, as do I, and are planning to include it in your upcoming holiday meals, whether as a side dish or dessert.


Sweet Potato Cheesecake

1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust


¾ cup mashed sweet potatoes

1½ half pkg. (12 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup

3 Tbs. sour cream

1/8 cup whipping cream

2 large eggs

Combine filling ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into crust and bake for 25-30 minutes in 350-degree oven or until toothpick comes out clean.



¼ stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/8 cup whipping cream

½ cup toasted pecans

Stir together the butter and sugar over low heat until smooth and sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring to boil, mix in whipping cream and pecans.

Pour topping over cheesecake while still hot. Refrigerate for several hours.

Rich and delicious!


Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

½ tsp. salt

1/3 stick margarine

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients and pour into greased baking dish. Mix the following and sprinkle on top:

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 cup chopped nuts

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.


Sweet Potato Pudding

3 cups milk

½ cup sugar

2 cups grated sweet potatoes

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ginger

¼ cup margarine

3 eggs

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup chopped nuts

½ tsp. cloves

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine milk and eggs to make custard. Add grated potatoes to custard. Add melted margarine and spices. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.


Fresh Sweet Potato Salad

4 cups (about 3 medium) shredded raw sweet potatoes

1 medium apple, unpeeled and chopped

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

2 Tbs. lemon juice

2 Tbs. honey

¼ tsp. dried whole tarragon

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine sweet potatoes, apple and pecans in large bowl; stir well. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Pour dressing over sweet potato mixture; stir well. Cover and chill. Serves 8.